A “recidivist” burglar pleaded guilty at Galway District Court to repeatedly breaking into the offices of the HSE in Galway city and stealing from them.
Chris Easywood (42), of Ballindooley on the Headford Road, who is currently serving a sentence and has a long history as a burglar, appeared before the District Court in connection with four incidents this week.
The first burglary, and the only one before the court not connected to the HSE offices in the, was at the Portershed neat Eyre Square on March 9 of this year.
The District Court heard that on the day in question Easywood entered the premises and stole a laptop worth €2,000 which was not recovered.
The remaining three burlgary charges all took place at the offices of the HSE at 21 University Road in Galway city at different dates this year.
The first took an unknown date between December 21 – 28 of last year when Easywood entered the HSE offices and stole a laptop and accessories with a combined value of €1,875, which were later recovered by gardai.
The most serious took place on some date between January 26 – 28 of this year when he broke in and stole a 65 inch touchscreen display originally bought for €10,000, and with a resale value of €2,000, which was not recovered.
And the final offence occurred on February 24 when CCTV footage captured Easywood entering and stealing two laptops with a combined value of €1,958.
The more expensive of the two, valued at €1,100, was not recovered, while the other laptop was recovered but in a damaged condition.
The prosecuting inspector told the District Court that Easywood has 75 previous convictions in total, and that 53 of those are for burglaries.
There was some confusion during proceedings due to the fact that Easywood had previously come before the court on these same charges in May where they were bundled up with multiple others.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced 13 charges at the time, but Judge Patrick Durcan vacated the sentences for these four and put the case back to this week as gardaí did not have the value of the stolen goods at the time.
Judge Mary Fahy asked how she could then properly sentence Easywood in this case, as he is already serving the maximum sentence allowable at the District Court level from that May appearance.
“This man is a recidivist,” Judge Fahy commented, saying that no matter what sentence he gets in the District Court he is back on the street and continuing to act as a burglar.
In this particular case, she remarked that there is a strong possibility that the stolen computers may well have contained private medical information of individuals, though gardaí said that would likely be encrypted in some manner if present.
Judge Fahy added that she doesn’t understand why the DPP keeps directing summary disposal of offences like these when it’s clear to her that only a more serious sentence could deter the defendant.
“He just keeps going and he knows that two years is the maximum sentence he can get here,” the judge said.
Initially the judge had considered imposing a suspended sentence, but the defence said that this may cause issues if activated as it would put his total sentence over the District Court’s jurisdiction.
Mr Easywood told the court that staff at Castlerea prison have been looking into getting him into a long term treatment option for addictions.
Ultimately Judge Fahy imposed a sentence of nine months which will run concurrently to the prison sentence he is already serving.